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The Death of Gaylord, Michigan. (Or, How to Really Mess Up a Town)

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Super Amputee Cat

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Here is a little synopsis I wrote about a small Michigan town that, due to its leaders' shortsightness and misconceptions of what is "historic", today bares little resemblance to it's former self when it was a genuine self-sustaining town. As the pictures below will show, it seems to be following a disturbing trend of "Phony-colonializing" its downtown and the inevitable resulting distorted view on what is "old fashioned" that somehow appeal to the masses.




Main Street, Gaylord, ca 1905. In this turn-of-the-century view, one can clearly discern that Gaylord contains all the traditional elements of a Classic turn-of-the-century Midwestern town: Handsome two-story brick Italianate style and Vernacular buildings - many with decorative cornices, brackets and other
embellishments - line Main Street. Numerous awnings invite window shopping and respite from the elements. The roads were unpaved during this era as the automobile had not yet entered mainstream society and many still used horses and buggy, yet the number of buildings attests that the town is thriving.



Flash ahead to the 1940s. The roads have been improved and the automobile has
made its presence well known for some time now, but angle parking still invites
convenient downtown shopping and business dealings, with a variety of stores
providing goods and services to local residents as well as tourists. Although missing
the awnings that were so predominant at the turn-of-the-century, most of the
buildings appear otherwise intact and looking very much as they did 40 years earlier.




Gaylord ca 1960. Historic buildings remain relatively unaltered. Downtown still appears quite viable as attested by numerous cars parked in angled parking spots and signage for local businesses such as a drug store and bank. But it wouldn’t be long before a downtown "revitalization" plan would change Gaylord forever.



During the 1960s, City leaders opted to adapt a “Alpine Village” theme in hopes of
boosting tourist traffic. Facades of many buildings were heavily altered to emulate
buildings that are typical of homes found in Germany or Switzerland. Original
storefronts and windows were replaced with new windows of glaringly out-of-scale
dimensions. Original brick and clapboard was covered up by modern materials
including plaster, rubblestone, and half-timbering. Inappropriate architectural items,
such as turrets, pediments, pent roofs, and phony thatched roofs, were introduced.
A new parallel parking theme makes it more difficult to maneuver cars and allows less
cars to be parked per block.


By the 1990s, it was clear that the historic and architectural integrity of Gaylord had
been totally compromised. Almost every single building had adopted the faux-Swiss
Alpine façade and it appears that new one-story buildings, with that same copycat
faux-Swiss theme, have been constructed. One or two old buildings appear to have
been demolished.

This new Swiss theme does little more than give the town an overall cartoonish or
tacky appearance. To compound the problem, many of the 1960s alterations, being
of inferior quality and construction have not worn well in the harsh Northern Michigan
climate. In fact, some these elements have already been replaced by even more
modern and gnashing elements.

The commercial tenants have changed over the years as well. Grocery stores,
saloons, 5 & 10s, hardware and dry goods stores have given way to an almost totally
tourist based service economy. Downtown Gaylord no longer provides viable locally
made goods and services to the market. Main Street now exists primarily to cater to
the tourist trade. Gift shops and craft stores, selling token merchandise, abound
where hardware stores and grocery stores once existed. Perhaps worst of all, basic
staples that were once available downtown, now require travel to the outlying strip
shopping centers and other automobile centered developments.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
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I lived in Grayling, MI, for 3 years, just 25 minutes south of Gaylord. Gaylord is a mess. The old downtown area, just east of I-75 is sort of nice, in a small town sort of way, but west of I-75 is a big box mess. And it's continuing to grow. It's going to be a bigger mess.

And yes, the "Alpine Village" theme is tacky. There is no charm - M-32 cuts right through the area and the traffic doesn't really slow down at all. Though, I do wonder why the Big Buck Brewery doesn't conform to the Suisse theme. They are on the east side of I-75, but not by the traditional buildings.
 
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Super Amputee Cat

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Beaner said:
I lived in Grayling, MI, for 3 years, just 25 minutes south of Gaylord. Gaylord is a mess. The old downtown area, just east of I-75 is sort of nice, in a small town sort of way, but west of I-75 is a big box mess. And it's continuing to grow. It's going to be a bigger mess.
Grayling also seems to have succumbed to a phony arhitectural theme to some extent, although it' seems to be more of a "Frontier" theme than Faux-Swiss. We were there last Summer and I noticed a few phony facades and building treatments that were trying to emulate that wild west theme. Lots of tacky vinyl siding too.

Inside one of the stores, a flower shop I think, they had all these huge wall photos of what the town looked like in the early 1900s: Wonderful brick and wood two story buildings with great storefront windows. Although the buildings are still there, a lot of those elements have been buried under tacky modern siding, innappropriate storefronts, and gnashing window treatments.

I don't know what it is about northern Michigan downtowns. Mackinaw City is pretty much the same way, and I probably don't even have to tell you about Frankenmuth.
 

Mud Princess

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The 2nd photo of Gaylord from the 1940s looks right out of the movie "Back to the Future," doesn't it? At least that was my first thought...

There are a handful of other communities that have gone with the Alpine/Swiss theme: Leavenworth, Washington and Solvang, California, to name two that I've visited. Both are heavily tourism-based. (Actually, just outside of Leavenworth are some spectacular mountains, part of the Cascade range. I stayed in a fantastic mountainside inn when I was there, managing to avoid the tackiness of the town entirely.)

Ironically, the 1960s faux-Alpine architecture in these places may eventually be eligible for historic designation. One wonders whether communities with stereotypical '50s and '60s architecture will "protect" these buildings by nominating them for the National Register.

Great pictures by the way. I love the old photos & postcards.
 

Wannaplan?

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Super Amputee Cat said:
I don't know what it is about northern Michigan downtowns. Mackinaw City is pretty much the same way, and I probably don't even have to tell you about Frankenmuth.
Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Traverse City all get it right. Mackinaw City isn't all that bad - at least there are other things to do besides shopping. But you are right, for the most part, small northern Michigan towns are bass-ackwards.

About Grayling - for the most part, I think you are right. However, the downtown area does have it's charms. Practically all these businesses are locally owned and I am sure they cannot afford fancy architectural detailings. Hence, all the vinyl siding. In my opinion, there is someting you can get in the downtown area that isn't in the Glen's/K-Mart area - small-town charm and a pedestrian friendly experience, although a small one. Fortunately, all the shops do not front business I-75. Unfortunately, a nice place like Shoppenagan's is vacant and is in need of a good property manager or new tenant. On the upside, Goodale's bakery is a great place for baked goods and meeting the locals. What the downtown area needs is some good planning and many $$$ to make interesting pedestrain connections to the Au Sable River (Ray's should step up to the plate) and to neat places like Goodale's and the Rialto movie theater (does Grayling have a DDA or a BID?).

Despite it's "cowboy" and "wild west" feel, downtown Grayling has plenty going for it, and from what I hear, the local decision-makers are finally figuring this out and are trying to get the ball rolling. Only time will tell, and from what I understand, it will take a lot of work to convice the locals to fund any public investment in the downtown area. Many are upset that the schools are over-capacity and now need to make budget cuts. The school district has needed to build a new high school for years, but voters have continually rejected millage requests. Who knows how they will feel about basic infrastructure upgrades.
 

Super Amputee Cat

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Mud Princess said:
Ironically, the 1960s faux-Alpine architecture in these places may eventually be eligible for historic designation. One wonders whether communities with stereotypical '50s and '60s architecture will "protect" these buildings by nominating them for the National Register.
Perish the thought!

I am all for preserving the recent past, but when it's deliberately cheap and tacky, I say get rid of it. Maybe, one tacky building could be preserved - as an example of the typical myophic visions of '60s planning - but I'd be the first one to rip all that crap off if ever given the chance.

Great pictures by the way. I love the old photos & postcards.
Thanks! Actually I scanned them all off of e-bay which I have been doing for over two years now. I now have a collection of over 3000 scans from across America for future use such as writing descriptions like this.

Beaner said:
Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Traverse City all get it right. Mackinaw City isn't all that bad - at least there are other things to do besides shopping. But you are right, for the most part, small northern Michigan towns are bass-ackwards....

Despite it's "cowboy" and "wild west" feel, downtown Grayling has plenty going for it, and from what I hear, the local decision-makers are finally figuring this out and are trying to get the ball rolling. Only time will tell, and from what I understand, it will take a lot of work to convice the locals to fund any public investment in the downtown area. Many are upset that the schools are over-capacity and now need to make budget cuts. The school district has needed to build a new high school for years, but voters have continually rejected millage requests. Who knows how they will feel about basic infrastructure upgrades.
Yeah, Grayling did seem more intact and less prone to tacky tourist totem trade than Gaylord. It's just that after seeing all those great early 20th Century wall photos in that shop and seeing what it looked like today was more than a little bewildering.
 
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Wannaplan?

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Downtown Grayling in the summer is pretty fun. Fun movies at the Rialto, fun little retro restaurants, fireworks, and in late July, the annual canoe race! The town is hopping mad!!!
 

H

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Did it do what the politicians wanted? Did it draw tourism?

I am curious because not too far from where I grew up there was Helen Ga. (aka an “alpine village”). While it is incredibly tacky, cheesy and phony, it gets tourists. I must admit when going to the mountains in N Ga. I will stop there and eat or just show someone who has never been how “bad” it is because it is so different from all the other towns in the area. It is sort of like a circus freak. Even though you know it is gross, you pay your money to look.

So anyway, did it work in Gaylord Mich.?

Note: I in no way mean to state the tourism justifies destroying history or integrity of any town, I am just curious.
 

Super Amputee Cat

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Huston said:
Did it do what the politicians wanted? Did it draw tourism?

So anyway, did it work in Gaylord Mich.?



Yes, it probably did, but just because it was "successful" does not make it right. I'm sure they could build a Wal-Wart just about everywhere, and it would be a success, but at enourmous social and environmental costs, that pitfully few community leaders ever bother to consider when contemplating such matters. They just promote the idea as "economic development" no matter how many local merchants are put out of business.

The point is, Gaylord's leaders, in attempts to emulate some Disneyland-theme have pretty much destroyed the history and architectural integrity of their downtown. Together with the fact that staple businesses, such as drug stores and hardware stores, were for the most part driven away from downtown, has resulted in a more sprawling community that has seen drastic increases in automobile-centered land use and its attending enviromental degradation, traffic congestion, and infrastructure maintanance costs.

While tourism has always been important in this area, it seems like the needs of the local residents were sacrificed in order to cater almost exclusively to the tourist trade.


I am curious because not too far from where I grew up there was Helen Ga. (aka an “alpine village”). While it is incredibly tacky, cheesy and phony, it gets tourists. I must admit when going to the mountains in N Ga. I will stop there and eat or just show someone who has never been how “bad” it is because it is so different from all the other towns in the area. It is sort of like a circus freak. Even though you know it is gross, you pay your money to look.
That's funny because I have a little booklet on Helen, Ga and I was looking at it recently. I remember it had a distinct Alpine Village feel to it that made me wonder if it was just some new town that sprung up in the Mountains. Like Fontana Village, NC.
 

SW MI Planner

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That's funny because I have a little booklet on Helen, Ga and I was looking at it recently. I remember it had a distinct Alpine Village feel to it that made me wonder if it was just some new town that sprung up in the Mountains. Like Fontana Village, NC.
Whats funny is that there isn't even any *mountains* (or hills even for that matter) around Gaylord. I have no idea where the alpine theme came from or why someone thought it was appropriate.
 

Cardinal

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Super Amputee Cat said:
Yes, it probably did, but just because it was "successful" does not make it right.
This is an interesting observation. Is "right" only historical accuracy? Many communities with struggling downtowns would not be put off by "tacky" themes if they would fill the buildings with businesses and bring sales dollars into the downtown.

Many communities have sought "historical accuracy" in their downtowns by installing brick sidewalks and decorative lighting, neither of which ever existed, or were very different from what is now being installed. Is this really any better, or just creating a different myth of the downtown - a Disney downtown, perhaps?

A shopping mall will often be developed around a theme. The most extravagant of these are, of course, in Las Vegas. Malls designed to mimic the Roman Forum, a Moroccan marketplace, or Venice are very successful. If a downtown can find success by creating an Alpine village motif, is that wrong?
 

Super Amputee Cat

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Michael Stumpf said:
This is an interesting observation. Is "right" only historical accuracy? Many communities with struggling downtowns would not be put off by "tacky" themes if they would fill the buildings with businesses and bring sales dollars into the downtown.

Many communities have sought "historical accuracy" in their downtowns by installing brick sidewalks and decorative lighting, neither of which ever existed, or were very different from what is now being installed. Is this really any better, or just creating a different myth of the downtown - a Disney downtown, perhaps?

A shopping mall will often be developed around a theme. The most extravagant of these are, of course, in Las Vegas. Malls designed to mimic the Roman Forum, a Moroccan marketplace, or Venice are very successful. If a downtown can find success by creating an Alpine village motif, is that wrong?
Well, actually I was looking at the big picture: Not just historical accuracy, but traffic congestion, proportion of out-of-town businesses, sprawl in outlying areas, taxes, infrastructure maintenance, etc. And I bet if home sales were looked at, there would be a marked increase in out-of-town second home-buyers – and prices - in the region during the past ten years or so.

I would submit that Gaylord's problems extend a lot deeper than just an ugly downtown. The town appears to be suffering from enormous proliferation of urban sprawl and its attending creeping-crud development, especially, as another poster mentioned, near the expressway.

Economically, the demographics of who is benefiting must also be looked at too. Sure, bringing sales dollars downtown is great, but if its ending up in the coffers of some out of town fat cat, then that's just as bad as a boarded-up building in my eye.

If local businesses are being driven out by a bunch of out-of-state-yuppie-catering boutiques - like Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, then that is an evil that extends far deeper than a few ugly storefronts. If on the other hand, the buildings, no matter how ugly they are still in local hands, then I guess I can sort of see some value in that.
 

BKM

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I guess, Michael, that I will agree more with the Cat on this one.

In general, I don't like themed architecture at all, but I recognize that it will happen. (I refuse to go to Disneyland, but that's because I'm a curmudgeon with no kids!)


How many good-paying jobs have been created by this attempt? Given the rather faded look in the newer photographs, has it really been that successsful As SAC pointed out, they have basically encouraged the hollowing out of their real downtown in exchange for tacky tourist shops. Not that this doesn't often happen in small towns, but as deliberate policy?
 

Super Amputee Cat

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SW MI Planner said:
Whats funny is that there isn't even any *mountains* (or hills even for that matter) around Gaylord. I have no idea where the alpine theme came from or why someone thought it was appropriate.
I have no idea either. All I know is that sometime during the late 1960s, the Chamber of Commerce started promoting Gaylord's faux-Swiss theme and a lot of businesses bought into it.

Perhaps the area once did have a significant Swiss or German immigrant population. Still, that would not excuse what the leaders did because the immigrants, if indeed there were any, fashioned the original downtown to be that of the typical Midwest, as the first pictures attest.

BTW, here is another picture I found of Gaylord. This has got to be the most unusual place I have ever seen the Big Boy Mascot.

Here is a close-up of the Big-Boy. (Sorry, I don't know how to attach 2 images on one post. I'll upload to my website and edit later)
 
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H

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In response to Super Amputee Cat: That's funny because I have a little booklet on Helen, Ga and I was looking at it recently. I remember it had a distinct Alpine Village feel to it that made me wonder if it was just some new town that sprung up in the Mountains. Like Fontana Village, NC.


Actually I believe it just sprung up that way and was not reinvented like Gaylord, but my point was that tourist went there and spent $$s. Again, I am not advocating this, just stating for sake of discussion.

The first questions that comes to my mind are, how bad was the economy when Gaylord decided to do this? What did the citizens think? Where they opposed or pro? What other income potential/options did or do they have? And of course, how historic were the buildings? I am a firm believer that just because something is “old” that does not make it “historic”, because if that were the case will the cookie cutter vinyl sprawl sub-divisions and the cinder block Wal-marts (that we all love) be historic and worth preserving a few years down the road.

Just some thoughts.
 

Dan

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I'm curious about how the appeal of alpine villages came about in the 1950s and 1960s. Soldiers returning from Europe that were enchanted by the inherent charm of small German burgs, perhaps?

Now, I'm noticing something quite similar with new urban village-style shopping centers and upscale power centers. A disproportionately large amount of them have Tuscan themes. Is the current appeal of Tuscany among developers and yuppies similar to that of Switzerland and Germany in the 1950s and 1960s?
 

BKM

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An interesting question, Dan. Look at all the Italian cooking and "My Italian Neighbors" books.

Another reason may be the dominance of the Sunbelt in current national demographic growth -and the Sunbelt, especially California, has for dacades pushed Mediterranean/Italian/
Spanish revival architecture. Plus, it is easy to build cheap stucco/foam build-uparchitecture that, at least initially, looks pretty good. Just slap some bright paint on and put a few gerniums in flower pots, and mama mia, thats Italian! I doubt if Gaylord EVER looked very good. Half timber German architecture is heavy and requires real materials and workmanship.

When I visited my hometown (Fort Wayne, Indiana), the newest "in" shopping center was a large lifestyle mall that looked like it was lifted straight from Walnut Creek, California. I still remain skeptical that such a center will do well in Indiana winters, but my mother indicates it is doing a booming business.
 

Super Amputee Cat

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Huston said:
In response to Super Amputee Cat: That's funny because I have a little booklet on Helen, Ga and I was looking at it recently. I remember it had a distinct Alpine Village feel to it that made me wonder if it was just some new town that sprung up in the Mountains. Like Fontana Village, NC.


Actually I believe it just sprung up that way and was not reinvented like Gaylord, but my point was that tourist went there and spent $$s. Again, I am not advocating this, just stating for sake of discussion.

The first questions that comes to my mind are, how bad was the economy when Gaylord decided to do this? What did the citizens think? Where they opposed or pro? What other income potential/options did or do they have? And of course, how historic were the buildings? I am a firm believer that just because something is “old” that does not make it “historic”, because if that were the case will the cookie cutter vinyl sprawl sub-divisions and the cinder block Wal-marts (that we all love) be historic and worth preserving a few years down the road.

Just some thoughts.
All these are great thoughts, but would require extensive research to find the answer to. Yes, it would be interesting to look at the state of the economy of Gaylord over the years and see if there were lulls in the 1960s and whether the new theme did anything for the economy.

As for the historic significance, I would submit that before the alterations were implemented, downtown Gaylord would have been indeed worthy of nomination to the National Register based on some community development criteria. (Remember, buildings of local significance are eligible just as those on the state or national level and these buildings would have qualified under that standard). Further research may have identified some of the more prominent historical buildings as well as those that are merely contributing.

Of course, due to loss of integrity, I would argue that the town is now "no longer eligible." Further, the alterations are so extensive, that I think they are irreversible, if someone with lots of money were so inclined.
 

Wannaplan?

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In trying to figure out the origin of the Suisse theme, I think the answer lies in the date when the Sylvan ski slopes were opened up.



I've skied Sylvan about six times in my life and I've always thought the businesses on the east end of the town, the direction you must go to get to the ski resort, were capitalizing on the expectations of the tourists wanting to ski. Back in the day, probably over 25 years ago, I would imagine the only reason to go to Gaylord would be to ski. A town that played-up this theme would lock into the sense of place that week-enders from Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw would expect from a ski town. Northern Michigan is quite different - demographically, economically, and natually in terms of landscape and vegetation - from the flat lands of those three cities I listed. The Suisse theme makes Gaylord easily identifiable and there would be no way to confuse it with Grayling or Cheboygan.

But things are different today. Retirees from the metro Detroit region are moving to or buying second homes in northern Michigan, and that's why there is all that sprawl on the west side of the highway. Just four years ago, there was a nice old-fashioned theater in the Suisse district, now it's closed, but you can go see movies at a 8-screen multiplex just on the other side of the highway. The concerns of locals regarding the abandoment of their traditional downtown and the transformation of the town character is real. Yet, when the population is growing from an influx of down-staters, market expectations change and are completely overhwhelming the soon-to-be minority population of locals. This is happening in small towns all across northern Michigan, and I'm afraid the officials in Gaylord are not too sure how to accomodate the tastes and desires of both the locals and former down-staters.

As planners, I'm sure we could come up with some great strategies to help Gaylord with their declining downtown district. Off the top of my head, I would: 1) look for infill and redevelopment opportunities in the old downtown area, 2) in the master plan, I would designate these areas as mixed-use, and 3) wouldn't even address the Suisse theme - it is not a relevant issue since Gaylord has its economic development engine running smoothly. All that matters is that Gaylord gets quality development in its downtown area. Job creation is another thing entirely - the big box on the west side of the highway creates enough permanent retail positions, though obviously not high-quality jobs, that make Gaylord officals happy. To me, it seems like the downtown area needs to build on its assets, but I am not too sure what those are. If it could be shown that there is a market for and a tolerance by the locals for more residents, even at higher densities, in the downtown area, then perhaps Gaylord needs to re-shape its downtown into something more like a New Urbanist town center.
 

Cardinal

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BKM - I certainly agree with you on Disney. I get depressed going there. The buildings and themes are just a hollow shell of the real thing.

I'll stand by my point about such places, though. We may have better taste than the owners of the businesses, their customers, and the local community, but it is not up to us to decide that they have done "wrong" to alter the historic facades, to attract out-of-town merchants, or even to allow the highway sprawl to occur. These were all, in their time, accepted practices across the continent.

Ultimately, it is up to the local community to decide what they want their commercial districts to look like. If they want to promote "Alpine" then they have to live with the consequences, just as another community must when it requires "traditional Main Street" architectural qualities. Each community may assess and weigh variables differently. Perhaps they have placed economic success over aesthetics. That is their right, and if an Alpine or frontier theme is their technique, so be it.

SAC, I will also disagree with your concern about dollars ending up in the pockets of some out-of-town fatcat. Granted, it is best to have local ownership. But a vacant building produces nothing - no jobs, no income, no sales taxes - and can also lead to blight and even abandonment. That is hardly better. Chains still circulate a percentage of their store income locally, beyond the taxes they generate, and the drawing power their familiarity may contribute to a district. Franchise operations do even more.
 

biscuit

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Super Amputee Cat said:
That's funny because I have a little booklet on Helen, Ga and I was looking at it recently. I remember it had a distinct Alpine Village feel to it that made me wonder if it was just some new town that sprung up in the Mountains. Like Fontana Village, NC.
You beat me to commenting on Helen, Ga. I remember visiting there several times when I was growing up. It appears that the Alpine theme was indeed a product of the WWII veterens becoming middle aged community leaders in the 1960's. This is an excerpt from the "History of Helen" on the towns website:

"In 1968, local businessmen met to discuss what could be done to
improve their town. They approached a nearby artist friend, who
had been stationed in Germany. He sketched the buildings, added
gingerbread trim, details and colors to the buildings, giving an
Alpine look to the entire town. In January 1969, business owners
and local carpenters began turning ideas into reality. Now all
downtown stores have been renovated and many buildings and
cobblestone alleyways added. Faces of buildings were painted with
scenes of Bavaria and North Georgia, mirroring the migration of
early settlers."

To be honest, the buildings don't mirror the migration of early German settlers who came to the southern Appalachians in the mid 1800's. They adopted the typical commercial architecture of the time (two or three story brick along the Main St.) The only references to "Bavarian" style architecture were the narrow steep-roof homes and lutheran churches found in the area, especially around Walhalla, SC.

As for the "Tuscany" and "Pleasantville" style theme malls popping up everywhere these days...I have a feeling that our grandchildren will consider them equaly as kitschy as we do the alpine villiage main street of places like Gaylord and Helen.

EDIT: ooops. I forgot to give the Helen, GA website http://www.helenga.org
 
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H

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Response to Biscuit, “I remember visiting there several times when I was growing up”

Biscuit, did you grow up in GA or SC? I know it has to be one of those by your references.
 

misspupka

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Huston said:
Did it do what the politicians wanted? Did it draw tourism?

I am curious because not too far from where I grew up there was Helen Ga. (aka an “alpine village”). While it is incredibly tacky, cheesy and phony, it gets tourists. I must admit when going to the mountains in N Ga. I will stop there and eat or just show someone who has never been how “bad” it is because it is so different from all the other towns in the area. It is sort of like a circus freak. Even though you know it is gross, you pay your money to look.

So anyway, did it work in Gaylord Mich.?

Note: I in no way mean to state the tourism justifies destroying history or integrity of any town, I am just curious.
I was born in Gaylord and lived there until I was 23 and went away to college. I would say that it definitely drew tourism, and all of its attendant ills. I always had the feeling that the town was artificial -- that we really had no reason to be there except to cater to the whims of the rich people from downstate -- that the whole thing would just go "poof" if there wasn't enough snow to ski on or if too many families had to cancel their summer vacations.

Another offshoot of the tourism/service economy that has developed in Gaylord is that most of the available jobs are low-paying and seasonal. It was not uncommon to have a summer job waiting on golfers, a retail job in the fall leading up to Christmas, a winter job waiting on skiiers, and then to try to get by somehow in the mud season when jobs are scarce. For this reason, Gaylord will probably continue to export its young people and not grow in population even as it grows in area to the south and west. I don't think this is healthy for a community.
 

biscuit

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Can you hear the accent even over the internet?

Huston:
I was born and raised in northern Oconee County, SC (Ever spend any time around those parts? Because the roads are full of cars with Fulton County plates in the summer and fall months) During my 18 or so years thereI spent a good amount of time running around North Georgia, on or around the Chatooga River or going to my orthodontist in Tacoa, Stephens County, GA (during those awkward metal mouth years).
 
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H

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To misspupka:

How great to get the opinion of someone from there! I hear you loud and clear about the seasonal low paying tourism jobs, but heck, that is what it is about for younger people, where would you of worked growing up somewhere else? In a grocery store caring bags for people, on farm doing labor for people, or also on a golf course carrying bags for people. This is what young people do. I bet some of the older folks owned and operated hotels, restaurants, and retail stores in Gaylord that would not otherwise been there, I am sure.

Tourism is a double edge sword. While it most always “sells out” an area, often time it is the only means of an economy for remote towns. Did Gaylord have other options? Can you give examples what you would of rather seen done to provide area jobs? Sounds like by its location close to skiing, it was destined (or doomed) for tourism.

I don’t blame you for not liking it, I don’t think I would of, but what SHOULD have been done?

Response to Biscuit:

If you’ve done the Chatooga River, then you have my respect!! That is my favorite!
 
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Super Amputee Cat

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Michael Stumpf said:


SAC, I will also disagree with your concern about dollars ending up in the pockets of some out-of-town fatcat. Granted, it is best to have local ownership. But a vacant building produces nothing - no jobs, no income, no sales taxes - and can also lead to blight and even abandonment. That is hardly better. Chains still circulate a percentage of their store income locally, beyond the taxes they generate, and the drawing power their familiarity may contribute to a district. Franchise operations do even more.
Well, maybe a little preferable, but not by much. Sorry, but I've seen or heard about too many longtime residents/low-moderate income denizens driven out of town in droves by "downstate" or out-of-state yuppies and their "fresh money": Kent, Connecticut; Lake Geneva; Hinsdale, IL; Stone Harbor, NJ; Astoria, OR; Tybee Beach, GA;...the list goes on and on and on. If I see a empty building...well at least there isn't some pretentious craft store/botique in it or whatever caters to yuppies' (or wannabees') totem shopping rituals these days.

Franshises are OK to an extent I guess, but I'd rather see a vacant building (properly mothballed of course) if it keeps it out of the hands of out-of- town elites and speculators just for the sake of making a quick buck. Maybe the prices will fall and locals can afford to buy it and hopefully put something in there that will benefit the town and keep the money local.
 

biscuit

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Super Amputee Cat said:
Well, maybe a little preferable, but not by much. Sorry, but I've seen or heard about too many longtime residents/low-moderate income denizens driven out of town in droves by "downstate" or out-of-state yuppies and their "fresh money": Kent, Connecticut; Lake Geneva; Hinsdale, IL; Stone Harbor, NJ; Astoria, OR; Tybee Beach, GA;...the list goes on and on and on. If I see a empty building...well at least there isn't some pretentious craft store/botique in it or whatever caters to yuppies' (or wannabees') totem shopping rituals these days.

Franshises are OK to an extent I guess, but I'd rather see a vacant building (properly mothballed of course) if it keeps it out of the hands of out-of- town elites and speculators just for the sake of making a quick buck. Maybe the prices will fall and locals can afford to buy it and hopefully put something in there that will benefit the town and keep the money local.
What then would you propose to do then. I have worked with several small town downtown projects and while there is some room for locally owned and supported businesses, especially in the absence of a Wal-Mart or other major retailer, a community with little local resources or high paying industry must rely on influxes of outside cash to maintain any type of viable Main Street. Retail must cater to it's market or it will not survive. Perhaps the secret is to promote policies that will strike a balance between the wants of the newcomers and the affordability of natives.

This has been a problem in many places, like in Charleston, SC where the cities popularity as an upscale destination has priced the housing stock well out of reach of most locals and many of the quirky locally owned shops that catered to residents and college students have been forced out by mall chain stores. You hate to see it happen, but it truly is better then the alternative.
 

Super Amputee Cat

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biscuit said:
What then would you propose to do then. I have worked with several small town downtown projects and while there is some room for locally owned and supported businesses, especially in the absence of a Wal-Mart or other major retailer, a community with little local resources or high paying industry must rely on influxes of outside cash to maintain any type of viable Main Street. Retail must cater to it's market or it will not survive. Perhaps the secret is to promote policies that will strike a balance between the wants of the newcomers and the affordability of natives.
You just answered your own question "the secret is to promote policies that will strike a balance between the wants of the newcomers and the affordability of natives."

I would certainly propose something that is a mixture of both. I recognize that tourism and out-of-town trade is important in the health of a community (to an extent). It's just that in some areas, this does not exist. It's all big money..it's all yuppie. Meanwhile, your fixed income Grandma who lived on Elm Street all her life, now lives in a trailer five miles outside of town, because the yuppies - and their relentless, neverending demand for high-end services, have driven up taxes to the point that she can no longer afford to live there.

My whole arguement is that I think Gaylord has become tacky and has lost it's intergrity from an historical and architectural point-of-view. But maybe the town still has some of the healthy economic mixture that you speak of. But you won't find it in places like Saugatuck.
 

H

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Follow up to Biscuit: If you’ve done the Chatooga River, then you have my respect!! That is my favorite!


Not that you don’t have my respect if you haven’t, I think I read your post too fast and incorrectly earlier.
 

biscuit

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Huston said:
Follow up to Biscuit: If you’ve done the Chatooga River, then you have my respect!! That is my favorite!


Not that you don’t have my respect if you haven’t, I think I read your post too fast and incorrectly earlier.
No problem. I'm like Rodney Dangerfield around here but that's ok, I've gotten used to it. ;) I sometimes type to fast, and the ADD makes my post a little disconnected at times, so it's understandable that you missread. But just to clearify... I have done the Chatooga.

You do know that the hillbilly romance classic "Deliverance" was filmed on Lake Jocassee, SC and the Chatooga River. Wonder if that would be a good tourism promotion angle?
 

H

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In response to Biscuit: You do know that the hillbilly rape classic "Deliverance" was filmed on Lake Jocassee and the Chatooga River. Wonder if that would be a good tourism promotion angle

I’m thinking theme park….
 

biscuit

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Huston said:
In response to Biscuit: You do know that the hillbilly rape classic "Deliverance" was filmed on Lake Jocassee and the Chatooga River. Wonder if that would be a good tourism promotion angle

I’m thinking theme park….
You know, At least one ride would have to be called
"THE PIG SQUEELER"
Yeeeeeeee HA!!!
 

Blue Colt

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**** this whole ****ing thing. I'm from Gaylord and found this topic accidently on a search engine and found it amazing and inspiring. So, I wrote a very excitied and informative two cents, and left some links asking for outside advice. Well I wonder what the **** I even did that for. I'm not allowed to leave any links until 5 posts, so I lost everything. God damnit, I'm pissed! What a waste of 3 hours. Sorry, but it just chaps my *sshole. Well I'm sorry, but I believe this will be my one and only post here!

Moderator note:

The limitation on linking before achieving five posts is how we control spammers. If you don't like it, then I guess this will be your last post. And with that, I'm closing the thread. nerudite
 
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